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House Passes Milestone Bipartisan Agriculture Labor Bill; Bipartisan Support Builds Hope for Senate Plan

December 11, 2019

The National Milk Producers Federation today commended the House of Representatives for its bipartisan passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038). The bill, the first House-passed agricultural labor reform since a comprehensive immigration plan in 1986, includes critical provisions to address dairy’s unique workforce needs.

NMPF thanks Immigration Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA). ), the lead sponsors of H.R. 5038, as well as its more than four-dozen co-sponsors drawn from each party, for their work on this legislation, which has drawn wide support from prominent groups in the agriculture, business, worker, and humanitarian communities.

“The passage of legislation that helps address dairy’s unique workforce challenges is certainly a milestone and an opportunity we must pursue to the fullest,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Agricultural labor reform is long overdue. With today’s action it is now imperative that the Senate act to fully address the needs of dairy farmers and all of agriculture, helping farmers do what they do best: feed our nation, and the world.”

“The urgency to reform the agricultural labor system cannot be overstated for dairy farmers,” said Mike McCloskey, dairy farmer and chair of NMPF’s Immigration Task Force. “Today, House members on a bipartisan basis showed us that they are taking our labor crisis seriously. We will use this momentum to work with the Senate to build consensus in drafting an improved bill that further addresses dairy’s workforce needs.”

More than 300 dairy, agriculture, business, and agriculture-allied organizations urged House leaders in mid-November to bring the bill to the floor for a full House vote, while more than 80 immigration and labor advocacy organizations called on their representatives to support the measure. The bill’s diverse backing ranged from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and the United Farm Workers to: